Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a chronic, reoccurring condition in which children have trouble paying attention, staying focused on tasks or activities and being able to control their behavior. It can affect anyone from toddlers to young adults. It is often inherited, but it can also be caused by a variety of factors, such as environmental toxins or early birth.
ADHD is a common childhood disorder. It is usually diagnosed in kids between the ages of 6 and 12 and can be treated with medicines or therapy.
The doctor may start by talking with you about your child’s symptoms, including their behavior and other problems. They may do a physical exam and vision or hearing test to be sure that there isn’t something else wrong.
Your doctor can tell if your child has ADHD by asking questions about their behaviors and by observing them. Your doctor will also ask their teachers and other people involved in your child’s life to complete a checklist of symptoms.
When your child’s doctors or other mental health professionals make the diagnosis, they usually use the criteria from the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition Text Revision (DSM-5-TR), to determine the type of ADHD. The most commonly diagnosed forms of ADHD are inattentive and hyperactive/impulsive, but there are other types of ADHD.
Treatment for ADHD includes medicine to treat symptoms and talk therapy to teach your child strategies for managing their behavior. Your child’s doctor will work with you to find the right medicine and dose for your child’s specific needs.
Some people respond to one medicine but not another. Your doctor may try several different medicines before finding the one that works best for your child. It can take a few weeks or months to find the right combination of medications for you and your child.
Your child’s doctor can also help you set goals with your child. Goals will help your child stay on track to achieve their best possible outcomes. These goals will include completing their schoolwork, getting along with friends, and making a good impression at home.
Medication can also help your child focus better, be less impulsive, feel calmer, and improve their academic performance. It can also help you and your child manage stress and anger, learn more effective time management skills, and get better sleep.
If your child is taking a medication, it’s important to follow all instructions and warnings. You and your child should let their doctor know if they have any side effects, or changes in how they feel, as these can interfere with the effectiveness of the medication.
Changing your lifestyle, including eating well and getting enough exercise, can also reduce symptoms. Avoiding junk food and cutting back on sugars can be a good idea. You can also reduce your intake of caffeine and alcohol.
It is not unusual for people with ADHD to have co-occurring conditions, such as anxiety or depression. When your doctor diagnoses you with a comorbid mental illness, they will first attempt to treat your primary psychiatric condition before trying to address any behavioral issues.